Boots and all: companion dog helps Woodvale students through ruff times


(Back) Kayla O’Dea, teacher Julie Robinson, Connor Brooks, Maxi Dennis with (front) Oliver Rowbottom and Isaac Davies with Boots and owner Liz Povah. Picture: Matt Jelonek
(Back) Kayla O’Dea, teacher Julie Robinson, Connor Brooks, Maxi Dennis with (front) Oliver Rowbottom and Isaac Davies with Boots and owner Liz Povah. Picture: Matt Jelonek

A WOODVALE school has a new star pupil – Boots the dog.

Students have been flocking to Woodvale Secondary College’s library since the four-year-old greyhound started visiting six weeks ago.

Boots, who was adopted by English teacher Liz Povah two and a half years ago, spends three days per week at the library where students can interact with him.

Ms Povah said she was aware the school was seeking a companion dog and thought Boots would be ideal for the role.

After attaining all necessary permissions, he was welcomed to the school, which she said had benefited all involved.

“He’s the perfect dog for this job; he loves meeting people,” she said.

“It really suits his personality. I knew he’d be good but not as good as he has been.”

Ms Povah said Boots had a great effect on students, including one of her Year 12 pupils, who had arrived to class upset but no support staff were available to talk to her.

“She spent 10 minutes with Boots and she came back to class smiling; that’s just gold for me,” she said.

“It’s teaching kids about empathy and caring for an animal.

“Kids who won’t usually read aloud will read aloud with Boots sitting next to them.”

Learning resource centre teacher-in-charge Julie Robinson instigated the initiative and cares for Boots at the library.

“We’d heard about the benefits of having a therapy dog and thought it would be a good thing to trial in the school,” she said.

“He’s such a gentle and quiet dog who absolutely loves the kids’ attention.

“I’ve been amazed with the result, it’s better than I’d ever hoped.”

Ms Robinson said she had seen the positive effect he had on students who had reading difficulties and those who were upset or stressed.

Teachers can make planned interactions during class times with Boots, otherwise students using the library are able to sit with or pet him and can visit him at break times.

“We’ve never seen so many people smile,” she said.

“It just makes the place a lot happier and a lot calmer.”

“We’ve had nothing but positives from it.”